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Posts Tagged ‘S’

connections and space Peace PagodaI was talking with a friend the other day (okay, we were emailing and the last installment was yesterday) and we were discussing the need for space.  Physical space, to be alone, all alone, especially when you’re in a deeply intimate relationship.  And not just any space – space that feels like it’s yours.  She had asked me a while back which be more difficult – admitting I missed my girl, or realizing that I really don’t.  I totally misunderstood the question and thought it was about the demise of a relationship, but it was really about space.

It’s funny that we are taught that humans are such social creatures, because most of the people I hang with have real boundaries about how much time they want to spend in the company of others.  Including me.  And I sometimes feel guilty about my need to be all by myself.  Being in a long distance relationship means that I do miss her all the time, like the sound of a brook through the bedroom window.  Sometimes it’s fully present and all I can focus on, and sometimes it’s not even noticed.  I find that I don’t notice the missing when I’m engaged in something I want to do.  Being alone is often what I want to do.

In past relationships, my partners haven’t understood the need to have space for a day or a week, or even an hour.  And not just, “I want to be in another room from you,”  but, “I want you to go shopping without me and do lunch and let me have this space empty except for me for at least 2 hours, please.”  Somehow that seemed personal to them.  So I have spent many years fighting for the right to have space.  And accommodating my partner’s needs to have my presence.

That’s something that is different now.  In this relationship, maybe because we took it so slow, maybe because the distance is so great, maybe because we are so very intentional with each other, and check in at every point, I have freedom.  I know and have experienced the, “I need space alone and it’s not about you.”  From both sides.  And it works really well.

To be honest, the first time I was on the receiving end (she needed space), I said all the right things and did all the right things, but it was such a different experience that I had to sit and really process that it wasn’t about me, and I didn’t have to get insecure or needy.  And I didn’t need to share that processing with her.  Huh.  Okay, maybe I went through that a couple of times.  But one thing I know is true – we are our actions.  And  my actions were loving and respectful and what I wanted to receive when I needed space.  And so, I grew up and was open to being able to trust her a little bit more.  (Which is scary and leads to the need for more space!)

One of the things I wonder about needing space is why.  I’ve come up with a couple of things and I think in different moments they are all valid.  Gonna’ bullet these, because I probably want to come back and explore them more deeply later.

  • I find I have a greater need for space the more intimate I become with someone.  It’s new territory and hits all my trust buttons, and I get worn out, unsure, and afraid. 
  • Sometimes I need to be able to be me without feeling like there might be even the slightest chance of judgement.  Indulging in popcorn for dinner, or the cheesy movie I would never admit that I had seen.
  • I like me and need a date with me every once in a while.
  • Sometimes (and this is going to sound weird) I sit and savor the lonely.  Makes me more grateful.

My biggest gratitude today is that I have this freedom with my love and she has it with me.  It makes us strong and allows us trust.  I most deeply appreciate that my friends are on this same path of healthy investigation and growth.  We can talk objectively and emotionally about this stuff and in that process, I get the gift of being more available to trust and intimacy with them, too.  Maybe I will be a social creature one day! Ha!

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More than a few of my friends are sideways people, and within that group, many of them also have depression.  One of my most intimate friends and I were having a conversation about her depression and it struck me how very responsible she feels about it. Not about having it, but about her perception that she burdens others with it.

Now, I’m not talking about getting the blues, or even seasonal affective disorder.  I’m talking about the kind of depression that is there, more often than not.  The kind that, even when you’re not feeling it, you know it just took a day trip and will be back soon.  The kind that you live with like a parasitic twin. The kind that feeds off of you, some days more, some days less, and you can’t control it.  You never know how each day is going to make you feel, and an attitude adjustment simply won’t fix it.  Exercise, meditation, diet, sleep – none of it really ever fixes the problem.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes not.  Even medication can be a long shot.

The process of building relationships with my friends who are sideways and have this disease ensures that we will always be moving slowly around getting to know each other.  Trust is not easily given and experience has proven to my friends that intimacy breeds the “I want to fix you” syndrome.  There’s also the fear of being percieved as being needy – especially on bad days.  And so there comes that wall.  The wall that keeps my  friends from opening up, from sharing too deeply, and from being able to trust completely.  The internal view that they are flawed, somehow, and as I said, a burden.  Everyone always eventually leaves or is pushed away – in either case, gone.

Everything about us can teach us a life lesson.  It’s not the situation you find yourself in, but how you deal it.  Depression is an aspect of my friend that I accept just as much as her eyes, or the way she makes me laugh.  Some days I hurt to see her in pain, and it’s taken quite a while for her to trust me with it’s existence.  Other days, we can joke about it and it’s not so scary. 

There is a real conscious awareness on my part that while I wish my friend didn’t have this, she does and I can do nothing about it.  I can sit with her, hold space, and be loving enough to have frank conversations and acknowledge it.  Never, never is it my place to offer suggestions, or try to do the pep talks.  It’s minimizing and disrespectful.  It is always my place to love her unconditionally, be there whenever, and allow her the knowledge that I’m not going anywhere and that she is never a burden.  I choose this relationship, and all that it entails.  It’s no more work than any other friendship, which is to say that it is no work at all.  It’s simply love in action, which is what I hope to always bring to all of my relationships.  Intentional, unconditional, fully present, respectful love in action.

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There are a couple of people in my life, okay, more than a couple, who are sideways.  We connect at really intimate places and enjoy some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve ever experienced, but this is not the habit of these womyn.  Generally speaking, they aren’t comfortable with emotion or intimacy.  So, much of our conversation is done without eye contact, often while walking, or sitting somewhere with a view.  These friends find it disconcerting that I look them in the eye while they speak, but looking me in the eye while I speak is okay.  They are kinesthetic, but not always tactile.  And they are my favorite womyn.  In the whole world.

One of my friends recently asked me why so many of my friends were like this and if it made it harder for me to be around folks who are so challenged.  I look at that last question and it makes me smile.  Challenged?  We all live with fear.  I do.  I just show it differently.  And the connections I make are the ones that make my life rich.  I get to offer genuine friendship and receive quality time, walk through the surface stories and build real community.  When I spend time with my favorite people, (and you know who you are,) communication comes with touch, and wordlessness, and shorthand sentences, and connections are drawn between the unlikeliest of things and boundaries are pushed in loving respectful ways, trust is intentionally built, and I come away from these encounters with more ideas and thoughts and that floaty feeling you get after a really good massage – yeah.  I’m soul-satisfied.   And my world couldn’t get any better.

Remind me again why you all live so far away from me?

I know I have more to say about this, and I’m not quite cohesive yet around my point, but I have to sleep and I didn’t want to forget to write about this.  I’ll be editing this post soon.

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